Small Businesses Are South Jersey’s Character and Economy
Summer has come to South Jersey and with it something that we have long needed: cautious optimism. While remnants of the recession can still be seen and unemployment continues to be unacceptably high, the warmer weather has helped usher in a sense of stability and certainty – a sentiment I’ve noticed as I’ve visited with local employers across our region as part of National Small Business week. Many I spoke with pointed to the pending summer tourism season, new orders for goods and services, and positive regional developments such as new commercial air service into ACY to underscore their confidence that this could be a better year for South Jersey.
Case in point: During a site visit Yank Marine in Tuckahoe, I reviewed the progress of the latest ferry hull under construction for their client. Hiring additional workers and looking to make a capital investment of new lift and repair equipment, the mood at Yank Marine was one of looking towards the future and completing the substantial task at hand. It is that determination and focus fueling the success of our small businesses and, in turn, growing South Jersey’s economy.
I remember that intense focus well from my days at my family’s trucking company. It was there I learned the critical importance of real-world solutions to the issues facing us. In fact, it has been one of the guiding principles I’ve used to evaluate legislation in Congress. This month I was honored to be named a “Hero of Main Street” by the National Retail Federation for my dedication and proven commitment to public policies that grow South Jersey’s Main Streets - the mom and pop stores that are the backbone of South Jersey’s character and economy. Its businesses like Kona Sports in Wildwood that keep visitors coming back year after year – and because of their loyal following they can look to expand operations, hire additional staff or even attempt new ventures. Such is the story behind Poppi’s Brick Oven, the latest endeavor from the Sciarra family, which will further diversify our region’s appeal and shape its future.
Most owners or entrepreneurs will say the key for any successful small business is recognizing the economic and regulatory issues they face and reacting pragmatically. I recently had the privilege to join the Kramer family and their employees to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Kramer Beverage Company, a well-known family-owned business operating across South Jersey. A festive day with a strong turnout of the greater Hammonton community, their story is impressive given their roots during the Prohibition Era and survival despite various economic downturns. Each year, similar small businesses in our region and across the country open their doors hoping to reach such a milestone. Only pro-growth policies can help them achieve that goal – ones I am committed to supporting in Washington.